Fri. Mar 31st, 2023


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Olive Oil Baked Salmon and Other Low-Stress Dinners

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Ali Slagle has two new minimal-effort recipes.

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By Melissa Clark

Stormy weather on the West Coast a couple of weeks ago disrupted a trip I took for work, closing roads and generally wreaking havoc on my reporting. When I finally got home, I was deeply frazzled and very, very hungry.

I considered ordering in, but what I needed even more than the food itself was the grounding and calmness that I get from cooking it. The simple process of making something like pasta with marinara sauce after a long trip revives my spirit and gives my brain time to de-stress. By the time my family sat down to dinner — served with garlicky greens made with a mix of kale, Swiss chard and turnip greens from the depths of the fridge — I felt better than I had in days. Cooking restores me.

But if cooking is more stress than stress reliever for you, Ali Slagle is here to help! She has two great new and minimal-effort recipes I can’t wait to try. There’s a baked salmon (above) bathed in enough olive oil to make the flesh turn silky and soft. And you could serve it with her haluski, with its soft bits of cabbage and onions tossed with egg noodles.

For something meatless and just as low-stress, I love the look of Kay Chun’s tofu and broccoli fried rice with its zippy mix of jalapeño, ginger and scallion. Eric Kim’s shrimp fried rice, made with a bag of frozen vegetables, doesn’t even require chopping beyond a single onion. And the yum yum sauce he drizzles on top is worth keeping in the fridge for adding a sweet-tangy sparkle to burgers (beef, turkey or vegan) and fried tofu, too.

Then for dessert: Eric’s olive oil ice cream with hot fudge, made not with an ice cream maker but with a can of sweetened condensed milk, which I sometimes eat by the spoonful when no one is looking. Alternate plan for any condensed milk leftovers: Vietnamese iced coffee, made with decaf if I’m sipping it after dinner.

To access these and all of our other thousands of recipes, you’ll need a subscription. (For a limited time, you can save on all of The Times, including Cooking, during our All Access sale. Subscribe now to get unlimited access to our recipes and advice, plus everything The Times offers.) You can also find us on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, where Ham El-Waylly does something extremely brilliant with a grilled cheese sandwich. If you need technical help, you can email us at [email protected] And I’m at [email protected] if you want to get in touch.

As Michael Levenson reported in The New York Times, stormy weather on Lake Huron was once so bad that the waters of Thunder Bay, off the Michigan coast, were known as “Shipwreck Alley.” The discovery of a remarkably well-preserved vessel that sank there in 1894 confirms an old, heartbreaking story. “It is hard to call it a shipwreck,” said Jeff Gray, superintendent of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. “It’s a ship, sitting on the bottom, fully intact, and the lifeboat there, literally, is a moment frozen in time.”

A different kind of catastrophe, a perfect storm of economics and demographics, is driving American colleges to reduce their humanities programs. As a former English major, I was both dismayed and buoyed by Nathan Heller’s article in The New Yorker this week, on “The End of the English Major.” As Heller writes, humanities degrees develop key skills. “I think the future belongs to the humanities,” one engineering professor said. Whether or not courses in English, philosophy or history will continue to be taught exactly the way they have for a century, they have long-term benefits, Heller argues, and applications across a variety of careers. Gray, of the Thunder Bay sanctuary, whose aim is to make his “community a better place to live and to visit” through archaeology, majored in maritime history.

See you on Monday.

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